When my dad died, music became my means of staying connected to him. I love tuning into his energy, surrounding myself in the decadent layers of his music, and letting his voice and words swirl around me. To this day, he teaches me how to sing, write songs, build chords, and strum the guitar every time I hit play. He even continues to deliver powerful secrets for a good life to me via music, and he's been gone for over 25 years now.
One day while I was sick, I heard him whisper. It was like the air had a message for me and as the breeze passed me by, I was hit with a sudden knowing. Out of nowhere, I realized how to apply what I had learned about life and music from losing my dad to the present. I needed to ask my grandfather, an awesome jazz horn player who played in the Air Force, to teach me how to play his instrument of choice: the trumpet. My grandfather, Don Midgley (who I call Papa), is 90 years old and he's amazing. I love him so much! He's always taken the time to share his love of music with me. We go to Jazz Lovers events together, we listen, we dance. I adore the experience of listening to music next to my grandpa because he points things out that I would otherwise probably never notice at all. He teaches me HOW to listen.
It started when I was very young. I remember laying on the living room floor next to him when I was maybe 8 years old and PBS played a live Wynton Marsalis special called "Big Train." The experience of it blew me away. It was the first time sound felt visual - it painted pictures in my mind and delivered entire landscapes to my heart. As a result, Big Train is a favorite album of mine; one I even insisted my husband listen to before we got married to ensure he had the capacity to truly appreciate a good thing when it was in front of him :-D
Music is a bond my grandfather and I already share, but this summer, I rented a trumpet to deepen that bond even further. I began practicing scales using an app called
Tonestro that I highly recommend because, when my grandpa and I finally got together for lessons, I was ready with a solid foundation to absorb what he had to teach me.
The cool thing here, and the whole reason for this blog post, is that I took a hardship from my life and applied it to make magic happen. The trumpet is not an instrument I am instinctively drawn toward, but now it represents a means of connecting to my grandfather even when he is all the way across the country, in Florida. It is my way of appreciating the passion and talent of someone I love in the here and now.
Emily Dickinson said, "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without words and never stops at all." For me, hope is in knowing I can connect to love even when the source of that love is unseen or ceases to exist. Though I wish it weren't the case, I know my grandfather won't live forever. My hope is that he and I will always be connected through music and that, when I breathe breath into the horn I can do so knowing it is a mutual love that comes pouring out on the other side. Here's to hope and to the many ways it is within our capacity to cultivate its presence in our lives. May you make time to cultivate it in your own life today, tomorrow, and beyond.